Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Wandering Wednesday - Beverly Hills


Some actual wandering happened! A very very early morning departure to drive to SoCal. I was lucky enough to get accepted into a clinical trial for a medication that might help my weird disease. So it seemed worth the risk to leave our home and venture out into the world. This is the first time this year we've gotten out of the Bay Area.

It was quite strange staying in a hotel that was mostly empty. And the sunset was rather brown due to the fires.
It really was quite brown.
After getting some post-appointment bloodwork done, we strolled around Rodeo Drive. I hadn't been there in a very long time. And not much has changed.

I was rather taken with the blinged-out Timberlands.
I mean look at those eyelets!
Orange, hooray, Versace!
The fanciest underground parking garage ehvah.
This statue was plopped in the middle of someone's suburban lawn. Can you imagine living across the street from this?!?!?!
The Hollywood Sign is on the hill just above the trees on the horizon. But it was very hazy that morning so you can't really see it without zooming in.

Driving through the oilfields on the way home, unbelievable how many of them were still pumping. Then about a mile past this, a giant field of solar panels. That's California these days.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Beginning Lucky Charm

I'm trying out some of the projects in the Journey-2-Nebula and using two of the Jaybird Quilts rulers. I already had the rulers, but hadn't tried them out yet. They're sharing great videos on how to use the rulers which has been very helpful to me.

The first one I'm attempting is the Lucky Charm, which is a pillow using half-hexies and the Hex-n-More ruler.

I tried using a charm pack as advised in the pattern, but it didn't work out too well or accurately as the charm squares were a very very scant 5" square.


So I got to cut my own charm pack out of all the fabric I've bought over the past few years and haven't put away into my color-sorted boxes. It's a big stack and it was fun to go through and pick out all the greens.And they were Actually Five Inches.

It went pretty well cutting out the half hexies and I like using the ruler, it's very clear. 

Here's how it looks all laid out. I'm going to play with the layout a little more before I start sewing.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Row 7 Done


I pushed through and got the seventh row all done for the Safe at Home quilt. The Wonky Stars are kind of fun to make, I like how most of them turned out.

Here it is all sewn together and with the row moved into the right order as per the pattern. 
Now it's time to move on to the final row.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

More Safety


The paper pieced row of the Safe At Home quilt is all done now. And I really like how it turned out.
Here's part of it with the blocks not sewn together yet.

I guess I just don't really like all the excess left over from paper piecing. It's whole new scrap pile, and just from making one row of a quilt!

The next row requires more background fabric of course, and I've run out of the three grey solids I've been using. This is an audition picture to see if this will work and I think it does.
Here's how one of the Wonky Star blocks looks when it's slapped up in the middle of everything else. The background fabric is a little different but it's not terribly off. I think it'll work out.

 I like this Wonky Star, block it's fun and freeing to use the flip and sew method especially compared to the tediousness of paper piecing. After this row is done, just one more left to do!
I haven't sewn the rows to each other yet, as I'm waiting to see if I like how they look as the designer plotted them out or if I want to change it up. Depending on how the new background fabric plays out I may mix it up a bit. But I shall "Make Visual Decisions Visually"

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Still At Home

 Still at home, still safe, still working on the Safe At Home quilt.

This row of paper piecing, phew, it's kind of a lot. I'd forgotten how fiddly paper piecing is. It has good results of course. And if I did it more often I'd probably be faster at it. I do like coloring the reverse side of the paper so that I don't have to think about which fabric goes where.

I'm loving how this is looking so far, especially with the other completed rows.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Where It All Began


While staying at my folks' house during our evacuation, I took these pictures of my mom's sewing machine. This is the very one that I learned on way back when (nearly fifty years now,  pretty wild).
 It looms so much larger in my memory and in my mind. It was one of the most expensive and important tools in the entire household back then as far as kid-me knew. I viscerally remember the Christmas my Mom was gifted it by my Dad, back in our old house. She was shocked and thrilled and very happy. There was even some surprised yelling which was super unusual and probably why I recall it so clearly. I remember my Dad being very pleased that he'd chosen a good gift. So to me, it was such a big deal to get to use it as a kid.

There were many many rules I was to follow. I wasn't supposed to use it when Mom wasn't home, that's the main rule that I specifically recall. Probably a safety/supervision thing. I was sorely tempted many times when I had those after school at home without Mom hours I could have been sewing. The one time I was a rebel and did it anyway, I screwed up threading the machine and it got all tangled up and thus I was found out. The ban from sewing didn't last long. Thankfully, Mom understood how into it I was. I had free range to use her fabric scraps, which I certainly took advantage of having so many choices. And every time we visited the library I checked out any and all "Patchwork" books they had. 

It was a much more complicated machine compared to my grandmother's and once when she visited us for a week, she brought along her own with her to sew my brother and I clothes. I quizzed her about it and I remember her saying she only had so much time to get it done, and it made more sense to sew on a machine she knew well. Truer words, right?

I eventually learned how to use the machine and all its stitches and was even able to help my Mom sometimes because I was a more frequent user. One of the only times I ever heard her swear as a kid was when she was working on a beautiful gown for herself out of Qiana, which was a super slick and slinky synthetic nylon knit. It was the famous "Infinite Dress" and once she finally got the right needle, it came together and boy was she ever beautiful in it! Ahhh the seventies...

That pincushion in the first picture is her second one, because my brother ruined the traditional red tomato one by poking the emery strawberry pouch too many times. The emery leaked out like so much playground sand and that was the end of that. We got her that one as a replacement and there it still is in all its wild 70's glory.

Monday, September 14, 2020

Rise and Shine


After much post-evacuation postal delay, I received my very first Sew Sampler subscription box from Fat Quarter Shop. It arrived the day after we evacuated, and I'm not sure what happened to it after that to it, and I didn't honestly much care as I worried about whether the Post Office and our town and our house were maybe burning down. But the Post Office and the town and our house is okay (for now) and the package appeared in our PO box early last week, a little dented but all in one piece.

Inside of the cute box, there were two 5" precut charm packs, with very cute fabric designs. Not exactly my style but that's how these boxes tend to go, right? Sometimes they're a real hit, sometimes just okay on the fabrics. This is somewhere in the middle, I love the colors quite a lot.

The notions though are pretty great, a small rotating cutting mat, which is going to be great for trimming up smaller blocks as I work on them. Some quilting between needles, which I still and always hoard for *someday*, as well as a pack of crazy quilt paper-piecing papers. They've also included a pattern called Crazy Daisy which utilizes those crazy quilt block paper as the center of a star. There's also a block of the month design as well. 

So there's lots of stuff, and now that I'm likely shifting into making quilts for the people in my town who have lost everything to the fire, I can work on getting these done.

And now I'll be getting the September box, in a more on-schedule sort of timing I'd imagine

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Safe at Home Again

 OMG, actual sewing took place! Hard to believe, I know, I know. And it took a lot of self-mental-corralling to get down to it and do it.

On to get another row of the Safe At Home quilt done, now that I'm once again "Safe At Home". Pre cutting the right size for paper piecing, I kind of love that really, instead of having way too much or way too little for each section.

It went together pretty easily. I used colored pencil to remind myself, a paint-by-number sort of thing. Several times I was placing things exactly backwards, just like I always do with paper piecing, because I just don't do it enough. 
I think the hardest part was sewing the two sections together accurately, but I took time and pre-pinned to make sure I only had to sew that seam one time. Now to do 9 more of these blocks to finish the row.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

White Balance Challenges in the End of Days

I'm sure you've seen the orange or red sky pictures from the West Coast yesterday because we're on fire right now. This terrifying/hilarious combination of Pantone insignia and the name they gave the color of the sky made me sad and laugh at the same time. 

I struggled mightily yesterday to take my own accurate pictures of the apocalyptic sky that I was seeing with my iPhone.  This 3 second long picture captures how the light looked out on my deck the best. All other color was muted and almost gone, there wasn't a lot of green available to see. It was boggling the camera because it's so weighted towards automatically messing with the white balance. It was so dark out that it kept switching over to night shooting mode. 

The skylight at the top of our stairs was a glowing rectangle of orange red which doesn't come through well in this picture. Eerie is a word. Discombobulating also works. 

This is how an unedited picture was turning out, and it just didn't capture the orange-ness or the darkness at all.

The next two pictures are my attempts to adjust the color to what my eyes were seeing. It was somewhere in-between these two. It varied a lot during the day, sometimes getting quite a bit darker. We had all the lights on inside, that's how little light was getting through. 
Now, I'm a person who really loves orange, and this is too much for me. It's like the whole world is early decorating for Halloween or to celebrate the SF Giants. I miss my blue skies, or my foggy skies, it's too much. Will it be like this every year now? It's hard to imagine it getting better because the climate has indeed changed. We're hotter, we're drier, and we're just going to keep burning, year after year.

What can I possibly do besides take pictures? 

Fire Drill Fridays - the Greenpeace supported, Jane Fonda protest movement

Listen to Jane be interviewed about Fire Drill Fridays and her new book about why she's working so hard on the issue What Can I Do? on this episode of the great podcast, Hysteria

I'm going to be reading Naomi Klein's book On Fire - The (Burning) Case for the Green New Deal

In case you didn't see this video, check it out:

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Red Sun=Stay Inside


The sky was weird with all the smoke from the zillions of fires around our state. We're happy to find out today that"our fire" is 83% contained. Good thing, because the firefighters need to move on and save some of the Sierras and elsewhere. Dire. This morning it was so dark when I woke up, I thought I'd woken up too early (which almost never happens) but it was just the smoke layer added to the fog layer. And I was cold, finally cold, because the weather changed. ahhhhh what a relief. So staying inside is a big part of the plan for the next few days. A new wives' saying: If the Sun Is Red Stay Inside.

We did finally get some of our packages from the Post Office, which was nice. The mail was redirected to Scotts Valley at first, but then they evacuated, so then it was sent all the way down to Watsonville. But they weren't giving out packages and there were long lines, so I didn't bother driving all that way from where we were evacuated. was nice to have something nice to open. These were things I'd ordered In The Before Times. I'd used up my Shapeflex on the Cotton Candy Pouches so I'd ordered more. I wanted to make some more masks and I wanted to get the right size bias tape maker for the ties. That was my least favorite step in making all the masks I've done, ironing the fabric strips.

I also ordered some soft flat cotton twill tape to use for ties and some very soft satiny elastic for around the head or ears types. Trims on Wheels has good deals. They even have some fabric for good prices.

Now that it's cool enough for me to use my iron, I'm getting some sewing done today.

Tuesday, September 08, 2020

Surviving The Summer

We're still hanging in there, it's been strange being in our house with power, internet, cell service and water but still being unable to use said water. The water district finally lifted the Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil late last night. So that's a huge change for us, what a relief it is! 

Let's just say, sponge baths just don't cut it when it is this hot. Seriously, the temperatures were insane, so many days in a row. It actually got up to 121 out on our deck, and that's with the detector not in the direct sun, and inside the top temp hit 88, which is pretty darn good all things considered. It was hard not to be hyper-focused on these numbers. Our one-room A/C unit was going the whole time. But we survived and at least the power stayed on, California almost had to have rolling blackouts during this historic heat wave.

I'm still finding ash all over the place outside, this bit was cupped inside a rhubarb leaf. Little reminders of the absolute devastation of homes and the forest less than a mile away from us are everywhere. There was a spot fire on Sunday that had helicopters flying right over our house with buckets of water scooped up from the reservoir. It was happening at one of the fire lines near the elementary school so it was contained fairly easily. It was a scary reminder that we are still in an active fire zone. Yes, our bags are still packed just in case.

In addition to ash and burned leaves, I also found this beautiful Peace rose blooming. Even after the weeks of extreme heat and not having been watered for a long time when we evacuated, still it bloomed. Just like it has for the entire time we've lived here, twenty-six years. A good reminder as my emotions ping pong back and forth between elation/gratefulness and sadness/concern.

Also, the work on the Refrigerator of Doom is still proceeding. Many rounds of various cleaners were done by my industrious DH. And it's almost almost okay. Now we've got it in the garage, plugged in and running with trays of baking soda and activated charcoal. Keeping our fingers crossed it works, it would be great not to have to replace it. We were having a tough time finding one to buy that would fit the space that didn't have a months-long delivery date. Covid has apparently caused a refrigerator shortage, just like so many other things, right?

I may sew today as my studio room is only 70 or so!

Friday, September 04, 2020

Still Standing


Well, we got to go back home yesterday and check things out. It was such a relief to see our town was still there, and our house too. There's a lot of damage visible on the mountain across the valley from us. It's a huge fire scar that will take years to re-grow. Almost 1,000 homes were lost in the fire, a huge percentage of the houses up here in the mountains. It's terrible and survivor's guilt is going to be a thing for a while for a lot of us. There are going to be lots of groups getting going to help people, one of which is...of course...a quilt group to make quilts for people who've lost everything. More on that later!
There was so much ash outside, and a lot of partially burned/charred leaves. We are so very very lucky that no spot fires happened on the east side of the highway from everything that was getting blown around ahead of the fire as it came down the mountain towards town.

I was so excited to see that our son's garden partly survived, we even have some lovely cherry tomatoes to come home to!
It wasn't too smoky in the house which was a great relief to me, I was very worried about having to go through a whole smoke remediation thing. The main smell was from The Refrigerator of Doom. No power for two weeks. And we'd just re-stocked on the Sunday before we were evacuated, including a nice big piece of salmon. And a five pound bag of shellfish in the freezer for cioppino. 
Thankfully it hadn't leaked all over the kitchen floor, I had really been dreading that.

We struggled to get it out of the house, and some of the liquid inside of the fridge did get on the floors. We thoroughly mopped up afterwards and I hope it really did take care of the smell, it was really something else. Once we got the refrigerator outside on the driveway, we opened it up and took pictures of the contents, maybe for an insurance claim. I'm not sharing those, they are Unecessarily Gross. We bagged up every single thing and threw it out in a community dumpster down in town. Thank goodness we still have a pickup truck, I would not have wanted to put those bags in a car. All the shelves and drawers were taken out and we sprayed them down with the hose. We left them out there overnight. 
These are our faces of horror after finishing. Thank goodness we still had some of the N-95 masks, they really helped a lot. I can see that there is mold inside the parts of the refrigerator that don't come off for cleaning so I think it's a goner unfortunately. Hopefully we can get a new one delivered soon. It's Labor Day weekend, isn't that a time for appliance sales?

We're going back for good hopefully, this afternoon. We're taking the pets and everything we evacuated with more than two weeks ago. There's still a Do Not Drink/Do Not Boil water order, only water usage is toilet flushing. The water district is testing lots of spots around the town and getting the results early next week, so hopefully we'll really know what's going on with that. We're looking into getting bottled water delivered and getting a water filtration system installed. Meanwhile I've purchased a bunch of water vessels of various sizes which we're taking over filled with presumably safer Saratoga water. It's going to be hard, but hey, flush toilets, power on (unless it's turned off because of the excessive heat this weekend) and internet and cell service too. 

Big sighs of relief as we drove back to my folk's house. It wasn't as bad as we were imagining. Even with all of this we are feeling very very lucky at this point. It's actually really nice to have these problems compared to having your entire house burn down. I need to keep this perspective going.